Make America sane again

Elections, like babies, are mostly about the future. Quite frankly, I worry for my teenage grandchildren. How do we make progress if we can’t or won’t talk to each other?

I leave such profundities to others. In the meantime, there’s campaign 2020 to recap. Presumably, we’ll know more on Wednesday.

To an unprecedented extent the combination of a fiercely-fought presidential election and the reemergence of the Covid-19 threat have all but drowned out local politics. Even with early voting at incredible levels, I wonder how many voters really know much about the local candidates on the ballot.

Familiar faces, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill of Kingston and Rep. Antonio Delgado of Rhinebeck, having drawn barely credible opposition, booked their victory parties months ago. Freshman state senator Jen Metzger of Rosendale faces a full-on challenge from Orange County’s Mike Martucci. The most startling revelation in that campaign is official spending reports indicate more than one million dollars will be spent on Metzger’s reelection. A million-dollar senate campaign? Here? Yikes!

We’re left with familiar names in Michelle Hinchey of Saugerties and Richard Amedure of Rensselaerville in Montgomery County, pretty much blank slates.

It has been my constant hope over decades of covering the comings and goings of politicians that the new kids on the block would atone for the sins of their predecessors or, at the least, not repeat them. Alas, it’s systemic.

Hinchey and Amedure are both making their first runs for office, though Amedure has served on his town planning board for more than a decade. I won’t mention Hinchey’s late distinguished father, mostly because she does so at every turn. Amedure doesn’t mention his well-known predecessor, retiring Sen. George Amedore, perhaps because Amedore has had almost nothing to do with his campaign. So much for Republican solidarity.

Early on, their campaigns seemed to be going in opposite directions. Despite her tender years, the 32-year old Democrat seemed a barn burner with well-organized, well-attended, press-friendly announcement events, endorsements from almost every leading office-holder with her on the ballot and tons of money pouring in. Hinchey fliers arrived in the mail almost every day during October.  Amedure, by contrast, seemed to disappear over the summer and early fall. Was this retired state trooper a serious candidate? Seems he is.

For media tethered in Ulster, it’s easy to misread Republican strength in the 46th senate district north and west of the county line. It’s like a foreign country trapped in some kind of Republican time warp. Mastodons roam those hills. Thus, Amedure has hope, if not a chance. The Hinchey campaign seems to think so.

Negative advertising may level the field in these final days, but why are both sides doing it? People complain about negative advertising but the truism remains Gospel that a candidate need only resort to negatives if she/he considers the other side either ahead or surging.

Given the volume of negatives in the waning days of this campaign, it would appear both sides developed a serious case of the willies about three weeks ago. Amedure had to know he had to close, but it was Hinchey who launched the negative bombs first.

Some insight into what is now standard practice: Candidates rarely say anything negative about opponents. No, it’s those “independent” political action committees or state party committees that sling the slime. I find it all a cynical shell game that takes voters for fools.

Candidates rarely refute any of these negatives attacks, like Hinchey backers linking Amedure’s name to “rape” and incest” because of his Conservative Party endorsement. Deplorable.

Amedure forces responded with something relatively mild, that Hinchey who lived in Manhattan for about ten years after college, did not vote locally in three of four elections, ending in 2011.  Check my math, but does that mean she’s voted from Saugerties in the last eight elections?

Such is the nature of negative advertising, or to put it more succinctly, plausible bullshit.

So, what about the top of the ticket?

I hate to jump on bandwagons, but I think Trump’s chances range between slim and none. And mostly due to his own damned fault. There is a deep longing for something approaching normalcy. Enough with the drama. A Biden landslide would at least give the appearance of solidarity, a place from which to start again.

Here, I refer readers to the historically infallible Deising’s Bakery presidential cookie poll. I’ve been following this informal survey for about a month and at first, to much dismay in Democratic Kingston, Trump had a substantial lead. Closing weekend results posted in the bakery show Biden closing to within 70 votes with more than 2,100 cookies purchased. Bakery owners claim their poll has picked every president since 1992.

For some professional insight, tune into the Me and Mario talk show on WGHQ at 7 a.m. Monday (also live-streamed) where we’ll host Siena College Research director Dr. Don Levy. He’ll have some answers.